- Men shake hands.
- Women generally hug and kiss close friends.
- Men and women would not greet each other in public from outside the family.
- When Saudis greet each other they take their time and converse about general things.
Gift Giving Etiquette
- If you are invited to a Saudi's house bring something small as a thank you.
- Flowers do not make good gifts from a man, although a woman could give them to her hostess.
- Never give alcohol unless you are positive they partake.
- Gifts are not opened when received.
- Saudis socialize primarily in restaurants and international hotels when entertaining expatriates whom they do not know well. After some time you will be invited to the home.
- Entertainment will generally be same-sex only. If both sexes are included, they will be in separate rooms.
If you are invited to a Saudi's house:
- You would usually remove your shoes.
- Dress conservatively.
- Try to arrive at the invited time. Punctuality is appreciated but not crucial.
- Show respect for the elders by greeting them first.
- Accept the offer of Arabian coffee and dates even if you do not normally drink coffee.
- If you are invited for a meal, understand that there will be a great deal of socializing and small talk before the meal is served.
Business Meeting Etiquette
- Appointments are necessary and should be made several weeks to one month in advance if at all possible.
- When meeting with government officials, a firm date will not be settled upon until you are physically in the country.
- Try to schedule meetings in the morning.
- You should arrive at meetings on time, although it is an accepted custom to keep foreigners waiting.
- It is not uncommon to have a meeting cancelled once you arrive.
- Meetings are generally not private until after a relationship of trust has been developed. This means you may expect frequent interruptions. Others may wander into the room and start a different discussion. You may join in, but do not try to bring the topic back to the original discussion until the new person leaves.
- Business meetings start after prolonged inquiries about health, family, etc. Never inquire about a Saudi's wife.
- Since Saudis will most likely judge you on appearances, dress and present yourself well.
- Business women should make certain that their collarbones and knees are covered and that their clothes are not form-fitting.
- Business cards are given to everyone you meet, although it may be an idea to be selective if you have few in your possession.
- Have one side of your card translated into Arabic. Be sure to check the translation carefully as there is often confusion with the order of western names.